Unclogging the Kitchen Sink

Unclogging the Kitchen Sink

It can be quite frustrating to make a delicious dinner and then go to quickly execute the nightly dishes just to find your kitchen sink is clogged and won’t drain properly. This is an all-to-common incidence and is actually the number one drainage issue within the home. Fortunately, it is the easiest to remedy. Be careful though, some of the tactics people think work for this situation such as harsh chemical-based cleansers are actually hazardous to both your pipes and yourself. Keep reading to discover some of the best ways to safely and effectively remove the clog in your kitchen sink.

Below are six (6) methods to clear a clogged kitchen sink:

1. Boiling Water

The first method to try when needing a clog to clear is simply pouring boiling hot water down your drain. This is sometimes all that is necessary to clear up soap residue, grease, hair, and other lingering materials. Boil roughly half a gallon of water in a pot and pour it down your drain. Allow water from the faucet to then pour down the drain and determine if the boiling water removed the problematic obstructions. If not, try one of the following methods. (Caution: do not use this approach if your drain is directly attached to PVC piping below)

2. Garbage Disposal

For sinks equipped with a garbage disposal, sometimes food builds up in this unit and causes the clog. Try turning on the disposal to break up the clog. If the disposal unit is not working at all, locate the reset button under the sink to reboot the system and try again. A low humming sound when turned on could indicate the unit is jammed or broken. To try fixing the disposal, first disconnect the unit and make sure to never place your hand inside. The clog can be broken up manually using an allen wrench that is stuck up through the bottom hole. Turn the disposal back on, run it to check if it functions, and run water down the drain to verify the clog was indeed cleared. 

3. Plunger

Plungers, specifically the flat-bottomed variety, can be used to break up a kitchen sink clog. Just like with a toilet issue, allow hot water to fill up halfway in the sink and then position the plunger over the sink drain and quickly plunge up and down repeatedly for a few seconds. Remove the plunger and see if the water drains freely. If not, try again. If the drain is still blocked, consider attempting the next method.

4. Baking Soda & Vinegar

Most households have baking soda and vinegar on-hand. Fortunately, this powerful duo is a natural, cheap, and effective alternative to harsh chemical cleansers. To utilize this solution, attempt to remove as much water in the sink as possible. Pour approximately one (1) cup of baking soda down the drain followed by equal parts (one cup) white vinegar. Seal the drain opening with a drain cover for 15 minutes to allow the ingredients to form as a chemical reaction that will break down whatever is causing the blockage. After the time has elapsed, run hot tap water down the drain to determine if the clog was cleared. Use boiling water for extra tough blockages. You can repeat this process again if you think it is working but did not quite complete the job the first time. 

5. Plumber’s Snake

For tough-to-tackle clogs in your sink drain, try using a plumber’s snake. This auger device pushes a spiral metal coil down the drain and once at the point of the obstruction, can be twisted by the handle above to manually break up the debris and in some cases physically pull out the material with the snake to remove it altogether. Electric snakes are even more powerful and can be utilized for some of the most stubborn clogs. An unwinded metal coat hanger can be successfully used as a makeshift tool if you do not have a plumber’s snake. As with the other methods, run hot water down the drain after you think the clog is cleared to ensure that it is. 

6. P-trap

The P-trap is the elbow-shaped pipe located under your kitchen sink. Sometimes the blockage is located in this area and the effects of that are being seen all the way at the sink basin. The way to fix this type of block is to disassemble the pipe in that area and dump out whatever materials are jammed and causing water to not be able to flow freely. This is a messy job so make sure you have a bucket, gloves, and towels ready to reduce the mess. When removing the pipe, place a bucket under the area to immediately catch any water and debris that may fall out. To remove the pipe, unscrew the connectors on either side of the P-trap. Remove the P-trap and clean it out. Return it to its position on the pipe and run the faucet to determine if the clog was successfully cleared. If not, you can check for a block further back by removing the P-trap again and using a plumber’s snake to reach inside the horizontal pipe leading to the wall for an obstruction and pull it out. Reattach the P-trap again, run hot water, check for leaks, and hopefully now you can congratulate yourself for finally clearing up a testy kitchen sink clog. 


Preventative Maintenance

The best way to avoid clogging your kitchen sink is by trashing, not draining, the following substances:
  • Grease, oils, and fats
  • Meat
  • Coffee grounds
  • Egg shells
  • Starchy foods: pasta, rice, bread, potatoes, etc. 
  • Fruit peels, fruit seeds, and stickers
  • Gum
  • Paint
  • Paper products like towels and napkins

It is advisable to not overload the garbage disposal with more than about a cup of food at a time. One genius way to provide cleaning maintenance to your disposal is to freeze a solution of equal parts baking soda and vinegar into ice cubes to grind up once or twice a month to gently scrape and cleanse the inside of the disposal. 

Some other good maintenance habits are running hot water down the drain after each use as well as using a drain cover to catch larger substances so that they can be thrown away instead of finding their way down the drain. It is always better to practice regular preventative maintenance strategies than to find yourself with a clogged sink that could potentially not be able to be remedied by the methods detailed in this article. 


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